All eyes are on the Oscars tonight, as Hollywood’s biggest stars make their annual pilgrimage to the Dolby Theatre for a shot at recognition for a job well done. But nearby at Hollywood and Vine, nearly 500 VFX artists have gathered to protest unfair treatment as competitive pressures and international subsidies have lead to a string of studio closings. Reported by FXGuide, the protest is trying to draw more attention to the plight of workers at studios like Rhythm and Hues, the company behind the effects in Life of Pi, a heavy favorite to win the award for Best Visual Effects at today’s awards. Despite the film grossing over $500 million internationally at the box office, Rhythm and Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month.
Aside from just protesting in the streets, former employees are suing the company for failing to abide by California labor law. A recently-filed class action complaint against Rhythm and Hues contends that the studio fired some 250 people without the requisite 60 days’ advance written notice.
Update: Life of Pi did indeed win the Best Visual Effects Oscar, but plans to use the acceptance speech to draw attention to the situation at Rhythm and Hues were cut short when event organizers cut the mic, loudly playing the recipients out to the theme from Jaws. Of course, acceptance speeches are cut short all the time, but the timing hardly seemed like a coincidence.